Up bright and early for packing, checking out and depositing the luggage with the concierge then off to our first location. Once again the sun shone on Auckland and the sun glasses stayed firmly fixed.
Now call me nieve, but I didn’t expect to see such a sweeping vast amount of greenery and landscaping in the middle of Auckland, but there it stood in all it’s glory, Auckland Zoo.
After we were given a traditional Maori welcome, we were escorted through lush lands where some of our beautiful feathered friends resided (one even came out to say hi), we then were introduced to a giant Weta, I say introduced, I stood a really good distance away and waved, and were treated to a close encounter with a baby owl – so cute. We saw cheetah’s being walked on a lead (I know, bizarre right!) and an animal hospital.
I don’t know about you, but I have never had breakfast at a Zoo, the only memories I have of food and a zoo is the cheeky monkeys pinching my sandwiches, but it appears there really is a first time for everything.
We were privileged to be the first ever guests to use the brand new private eating area at the back of the restaurant which housed it’s own service counter/bar area and a long table adorned with some exotic looking food items. I was later to discover this included eel filled croissants, unlike the oysters, I was not brave enough to give this slippery creature a try.
It was a wonderful experience and the food provided by Montana Catering, (other than the eel), was great. We even had tea served in test tubes.
The Zoo is undergoing improvements at the moment and the brand new restaurant is well under way. They have also erected a new event/conference area which has a large central space with smaller spaces off, almost like the centre of a flower with it’s petals all around. A very interesting shape which I am certain will generate lots of fun and innovation for it’s uses.
The New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC) was our next stop, well not actually the centre, as this is still under construction, but we did get a great view of it from a balcony of the Sky City Hotel and Convention Centre. This new landmark it going to be a massive complex of rooms upon rooms upon rooms, they are also throwing in a hotel, a theatre and a couple of lifts which will take large trucks! Although the opening date has been pushed back, there is no doubt that this will be the place to hold both big and small events, only one’s imagination will be limited!
After a great time talking to the NZICC crowd, we headed for the more serene setting of the Waipuna Hotel and Conference Centre located close to the CBD and the airport.
A tour of the facility allowed us to view the recently refurbished accommodations, some of which have spectacular views of the lagoon and gardens. Once the tour was completed we were led outside to the garden, and wow, what a setting. Right next to the lagoon were tables laid for lunch (styled by Centrepiece), and a private seating area and bar (furniture courtesty of Displayworks/Exhibition Hire). It looked picture perfect.
We were treated to good food, good wine and more serenading before being taken back inside where creative juices were allowed to flow.
The great Kiwi bake off a-like, was waiting for our arrival, and the next hour or so saw three teams having to decorate a cake portraying our enjoyment of the past couple of days. We didn’t think just making a huge bottle of wine would be acceptable, so we put our heads together to see what we could come up with.
To be honest, I think we had so many good experiences that none of us could pin point one, so we decided to do them all – in miniature of course, and adorn a huge A shaped cake with all our little scenes. We had the Skytower, (with so many cocktail sticks holding it up), a small boat under a liquorice bridge and lots of chocolate fish, a winery (obviously) in fact, lots of things. And guess what, we won – yay!!
What a super way to team build, hats off to Team Up Events.
A little later than planned we set off for our next visit leaving our winning creation behind but carrying our winners medals.
Our final port of call was the Holiday Inn Hotel at the airport (awesome! I will be in plenty of time for check in for the flight home). The hotel has recently had it’s public areas refurbished making them feel open, fresh and contemporary, of which we were given a guided tour.
A quick glance of my watch told me that it was now time to head for the airport, but apparently I was the only one who seemed to think that arriving at the airport 2 hours before a domestic flight was the norm. We were gathered in the dining area for drinks and nibbles and our farewell speeches from the fabulous ladies at Auckland Convention Bureau. We were treated to a farewell ceremony and handed our Famil packs along with lots of hugs and thank yous before departing for the airport.
Before I depart I want to say a big thank you to all those who hosted us over the few days and a particularly massive thank you to Lizz, Stephanie and Jessica for organising it all. I would also like to extend a huge thank you to Auckland for showing me your sights, your appeal and your outstanding hospitality.
Despite my palpitations, we arrived at the airport with time to check in, grab a drink and snack before the flight back to Wellington. We all collected our luggage and with a promise to keep in touch we all said cheerio and made our way home.
Now…… what did I do with that car key!
Snr Event Executive, Auaha